Everyone has an occasional headache, sinus infection or other minor ailment. So, you need over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications for treatment. Your kidneys filter all medications as they balance your body’s fluids. If you have kidney disease, your kidneys don’t filter your blood effectively. Thus, you may need to adjust or change many medications.

Kidney Disease: Medications to Avoid

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Several NSAIDs are available over the counter. These include aspirin (Bayer, Excedrin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol) and naproxen (Aleve). They also are in some cold and cough medications. Because NSAIDs reduce blood flow to your kidneys, they can build up in your body. This can damage diseased kidneys. Ask your doctor which pain and cold medications are best for you.
  • Herbal supplements and vitamins: Many people believe that all supplements are healthy. But, your kidneys filter supplements the same as other medications. They can interact with other drugs. In addition, many herbal supplements contain minerals. Potassium and phosphate are two common minerals that are damaging to diseased kidneys. Depending on your diet, some vitamins may be helpful. Others can build up in your system. Only take vitamins or supplements recommended by your doctor.
  • Diuretics: Some people take diuretics (water pills) to treat high blood pressure. Others take OTC water pills to reduce bloating. This medication can cause dehydration and kidney inflammation. Take diuretics only as directed so your doctor can balance benefits with risks.
  • Antibiotics: Patients with chronic kidney disease have different antibiotic risks than people with healthy kidneys. They usually need smaller doses. They need to avoid antibiotics that don’t filter or dissolve easily. Based on your kidney function, your doctor will prescribe the best antibiotic to treat an illness.

Spread the Word on Your Medication Restrictions

Almost everyone has some help from time to time. Maybe others pick up medications for you. Or, your family brings you a pill for a headache. Do you go on vacation? You should keep a list of medications that you take. Your list should also include common medications that you need to limit or avoid. Here are some people who need to be knowledgeable.

  • Pharmacist: Inform your pharmacist about your condition and make sure notes are in your file. This is an important check step for every refill. Ask about common OTC medications that may fall into your “avoid” category. Try to stay with the same pharmacy because they are familiar with your history.
  • Family: Share your medication restrictions with family and friends. This helps them remember to check any common medications that they may offer you for a headache or cold.
  • Healthcare Providers: If you get sick while traveling, you may need medical attention. That healthcare provider won’t be familiar with your kidney history. A list of your medications and restrictions is vital for them. Always take it with you.

Every patient with chronic kidney disease is different. So, your treatment plan is different. The stage of kidney disease makes a difference in your kidneys function. Your overall health plays a role too. Your doctor considers all of this when prescribing medications. The one constant recommendation for every kidney disease patient is to ask for your doctor’s input before taking any medications or supplements.